(http://3 NULL.bp NULL.blogspot NULL.com/_E86K6-isvvA/R4kQ4SaarKI/AAAAAAAAADk/-zGQhML6oOE/s1600-h/acupuncture NULL.jpg)After the story I mentioned in my last post (http://biglegwoman NULL.blogspot NULL.com/2008/01/lymphedema-in-every-mailbox NULL.html) was published, Mary, my therapist, reported getting a phone call from a woman who very kindly explained that we were doing it all wrong, that she’d had acupuncture (http://organizedwisdom NULL.com/Acupuncture) for her lymphedema that cured it.
Now, in general I think alternative therapies are interesting, and I’m very open to exploring them. But this sounds horrifyingly wrong to me. As I understand it, ANY puncture wound, accidental or deliberate, in a lymphedemous area can cause leakage of lymphorrhea (the fluid that pools up in a lymphedemous leg, arm or other body part). This does two things: It opens a pathway for infection to enter the affected area (and lymphedema means your body is already limited at fighting infections in that area). The lymphorrhea itself is also caustic and damages the skin, leaving even more pathways for infection and causing ugly scarring.
OK, I’m not a doctor or a medical professional. So I won’t tell you not to have acupuncture, and if you’ve had it and had a good experience, I wish you all the best. If you haven’t, and are thinking about it, let me refer you to these pages:
- Acupuncture and Lymphema (http://www NULL.lymphnotes NULL.com/article NULL.php/id/23/) (LymphNotes.com):
Acupuncture has not been documented as an effective treatment for lymphedema and it is not recommended for this purpose.
- Lymphedema Acupuncture Treatment (http://www NULL.lymphedemapeople NULL.com/thesite/lymphedema_acupuncture_treatment NULL.htm) (Lymphedemapeople.com)
- Clinical practice guidelines for the care and treatment of breast cancer: 11. Lymphedema (http://www NULL.pubmedcentral NULL.nih NULL.gov/articlerender NULL.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=80678) (Canadian Medical Association Journal)
Whenever possible patients should avoid medical procedures such as vaccination, blood drawing, intravenous access, blood pressure monitoring, acupuncture, venography and lymphangiography in the affected arm.
I have several friends who’ve found acupuncture beneficial for a variety of ailments, and I even know one or two acupuncturists personally. With all due respect, though, I will not choose this therapy for myself, and I hope that any lipedema or lymphedema patient considering it will do careful research and consult knowledgeable medical professionals before going ahead with it.
(Photo: hradcanska (http://www NULL.flickr NULL.com/photos/hradcanska/))